Mexico City, July 15 (EFE).- Mexican military Friday captured a notorious drug lord, convicted of the murder of an American anti-narcotics agent, in a mountainous search operation during which a Black Hawk helicopter crash killed 14 navy personnel, authorities said.
The Mexican navy said Rafael Caro Quintero, involved in the brutal torture and killing of a US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agent in 1985, was arrested in the town of San Simon in Sinaloa state during a joint operation by the navy and the Attorney General’s Office.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador confirmed that the helicopter, which crashed with 15 people on board, was part of the mission to arrest Caro Quintero.
“I am very sorry for the loss of 14 members of the Mexican Navy. I send my sincere condolences to their families, colleagues and friends,” the president tweeted.
The accident occurred in the seaside city of Los Mochis.
However, the Mexican military had previously stated that there was no proof linking the accident to the operation to capture Caro Quintero.
The chopper had 15 people on board when it crashed, according to the navy.
One of the passengers was receiving medical attention.
The navy said it initiated an inquiry to determine what caused the disaster.
Photos on social media showed the wreckage of the helicopter in a field.
Caro Quintero, one of the DEA’s most wanted fugitives, was arrested after a search dog named “Max” found him hiding in the bushland in the San Simon town.
The 69-year-old drug lord was in the highlands near Sinaloa’s border with Chihuahua, Mexico’s northern border state.
He was released from a Mexican prison in 2013 after serving 28 years and had reportedly returned to drug trafficking, according to the navy.
The drug trafficker was wanted for the kidnapping and death of DEA agent Enrique Camarena in 1985 and other drug trafficking and organized crime-related offenses.
The Guadalajara Cartel’s founder was on the FBI’s most wanted list, with a $20 million bounty on his head.
US Attorney General Merrick Garland said the government would seek his immediate extradition.
“There is no hiding place for anyone who kidnaps, tortures, and murders American law enforcement. We are deeply grateful to Mexican authorities for their capture and arrest of Rafael Caro-Quintero,” Garland said in a statement.
The drug lord’s arrest comes only days after US President Joe Biden met with his Mexican counterpart, López Obrador. EFE